A Happy New Year to all our Jewish members.
HADAS goes West by Don Cooper
The HADAS “long” weekend in Devon & Cornwall took place between 30th August and 3rd of September. It was a most successful trip and enjoyed by all. I won’t spoil the full report (which will appear with a future newsletter) by revealing all the details, however I would like to record mine and everybody’s warm congratulations and thanks to Jackie Brookes for her brilliant organisation (as usual) from the programme booklet, the good food and accommodation to the surprise dinner and much else besides holiday — thank you Jackie.
Lectures starting A reminder that the winter season on Lectures start on Tuesday 10th October at Avenue House
Tuesday, 10th October 2006, Nadia Durrani – assistant editor, Current Archaeology. The Queen of Sheba
Tuesday, 14th November 2006, Barry Taylor & Steve Ellwood of English Heritage. The sites and monuments records for Barnet
Tuesday, 9th January 2007, Stephen Knight – Curator of the Colne Valley Postal Museum, Essex. British Post Box Design & Use – the first 150 years
Tuesday, 13th February 2007, Dr Andrew Gardner – Lecturer in the Archaeology of the Roman Empire, Institute of Archaeology, UCL. The end of Roman Britain
Tuesday, 13th March 2006, Eileen Bowlt – LAMAS Chairman. The London and Middlesex Archaeological Society (LAMAS) in the early days
Tuesday, 10th April 2007, Denis Smith – Lecturer on Industrial Archaeology. Title TBA
Tuesday, 8th May 2007. TBA
Lectures start at 8.00pm in the Drawing Room, Avenue House, 17 East End Road, Finchley, N3 3QE. Buses 82, 143, 326 & 460 pass close by, and it is five to ten minutes walk from Finchley Central Station (Northern Line).
Congratulations by Jim Nelhams
Congratulations to Denis and Shifra Ross who have just celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary. The exotic location chosen to celebrate the occasion was the coach taking HADAS members on their extended trip to Devon. At a dinner on the last evening of the trip, the happy couple generously provided wine for each table, which was much appreciated. Don Cooper read a specially commissioned ode, which follows. Jackie Brookes, resourceful as ever, arranged for the Hotel to provide a celebratory cake. For Denis and Shifra
For Denis and Shifra a rhyme,
And sadly, there isn’t the time
To list their good features
And all they could teach us
Their effect on us all is sublime
The Committee of HADAS are fearing
When through our procedures, he’s steering,
So we have our play
When he’s looking away
And our whispered remarks he’s not hearing.
Long ago, Denis met young Miss Miller,
And she was quite clearly a thriller.
I would bet that she still
Can give Denis a thrill,
And at Christmas, a great stocking filler.
It’s now fifty years since they wed,
And their children are clearly well-bred.
But this story will run.
They’re on year fifty one.
There’s an awful lot more to be said.
Their occasion was marked with no fuss.
They spent most of it sat on a bus.
And the date that you seek —
It was Wednesday this week,
And we’re honoured — they spent it with us.
It would certainly be a mistake
If this chance we omitted to take
So we’ll give them our cheers,
Wish them many more years,
And we’ll do it with drink and with cake.
Barnet Local Studies Centre — You can help. by Jim Nelhams
While working on the dig at Hendon School earlier this year, I consulted the archives held at Barnet Local Studies Centre at Mill Hill, and very fruitful this proved. In the archives was a map dated 1749 showing the site of our dig, and also three contemporary sketches of Hendon House, the subject of the project at the school. How lucky we are to have the resource of the archive available to us. With ever increasing pressures on council budgets, it seems important that people should not only know about the Centre, but should use it. This is particularly important to HADAS since the results of some of our past research are stored there and made available to the public. The following brief report from Yasmine Webb at the Centre mentions a project to create a computer database from the records compiled by HADAS members in the 1970s by transcribing the gravestones at St Mary’s Church in Hendon. These records are currently on paper, supplemented by a partial card index, and searching them is not at the moment an easy task. How helpful it would he to the Centre if the information was transcribed to a computer and made available to the public through the Archive’s internet pages. More than that, the transcription would secure the information which exists only because of the many hours spent by HADAS members, since only one copy of the paperwork exists. I have started discussions to find the best way forward with this project, but clearly it will need helpers to undertake some of the work, which will have to be done at the Centre. So I would be pleased to hear from anybody who is prepared to help with this valuable work. As you will read, there are also a number of other tasks where volunteer help would be very welcome at Mill Hill. If this interests you, please contact me or talk directly to Yasmine.
People & Places: Heritage & Local Studies by Yasmine Webb
Another round of the successful BBC series of “Who do you think you are” started this September. It gives a high profile to researching Family History, drawing more people to the, doors of the Barnet Local Studies Centre_ Though many people researching genealogy use the Centre, there is a lot more in the collection of interest in exploring the development of the Borough. The Collection holds the records of the former authorities of Hendon, Finchley, and The Barnets that makes up 60% of the holdings. The phenomenal growth of the Borough and absorption into Metropolitan London required an ever-increasing organisation of services and conformance to regulations. Council records and those of their predecessors the Parish Vestries are fascinating insight into local politics and personalities. Some of these records date back to the 18th Century. Hendon particularly since the 17th Century provided countryseats for the wealthy. Another influence of change was the matrix of communication systems that breached the Northern Heights that once nestled in rural tranquillity. There was little uniformity of development, diverse influences advanced the development of different areas, for example the Green Belt encircling Totteridge, the density of housing and small industries along the Edgware Road, the Arts and Crafts village of Hampstead Garden and dormitory development at the end of the railway lines, all contribute to the story of this vibrant Borough of contrasts. The collection documents and provides records for research that includes photographs dating from 1900, maps from the 18th Century, newspapers from 1870s, publications, deeds from the 17th Century and manuscripts.
We are responding more to remote enquiries by email and producing digital formats, but a lot of work is still to be done. Volunteers are welcome at the centre. Projects include the creation of a database for recording the gravestones of St. Mary’s Hendon transcribed by HADAS in the 1970s, scanning and conversion to OCR (Optical Character Recognition) documents of old publications. Indexing deeds, identifying and indexing photographs, listing names of local recruits to the Armed Services in 1941 are some intended projects. We have a presence on the Barnet Council’s web page with a brief list of holdings and pocket histories of the Borough are currently being developed on this page with many links and illustrations at www.barnet.gov.uk/archives Visitors are also welcome, for only by research is new evidence unearthed from our sources. Yasmine Webb Local Studies Collection Manager
The Origins of the Humble Potato by Stewart Wild
Knowing very little about botany, I have always been fascinated by the extraordinary fact that the ubiquitous and versatile potato (a vegetable – Solanum tuberosum) is in the same Solanaceae family as the tomato (a fruit — Lycopersicum esculentum), tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) and also the nightshade plants which include the poisonous deadly nightshade (aka belladonna Atropa belladonna) whose leaves contain the alkaloids atropine, hyoscine and belladonnine. I decided to do a little research and found that recent archaeology in South America has cast some light on this enigma. It was in the poor soil of the high Andes of Ecuador in South America that the white potato was first cultivated around 7,000 years ago. It was a valuable crop because not only was it highly nutritious, rich in carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, but it thrived even at high altitude. It could also be eaten raw. It is thought that it was the Incas in the twelfth century who discovered that it could be freeze-dried at altitude, and then would last for years, providing security against famine. This early form of potato crisp was known as chuno. Around 1537 the invading Spanish mercenaries first encountered than and it was mentioned in 1540 in Pedro de Cieza’s Chronicles of Peru. But it was not until 1565 that the patata (from native batata) first arrived in Spain, imported by the explorer Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada. Legend has it that it was Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618) who introduced the potato to the British Isles, planting it at his estate in Ireland and offering it at the court of Elizabeth I, although Sir John Hawkins may have beaten him to it some twenty years earlier. At this time its main use was as an ornamental plant. Records in France first mention the potato in 1593, and the botanist Gerard, who received some tubers from Virginia, introduced it to the Low Countries in 1597. However, potatoes didn’t really catch on in Europe, perhaps because the stems, leaves and green tubers are unpleasant, indeed poisonous, and the plant acquired an evil reputation, being blamed for a variety of maladies including sterility, syphilis, scrofula and leprosy. In the meantime, it was the unrelated sweet, or Spanish, potato (Ipomoea batatas) that flourished in England, introduced from Castile in the sixteenth century and believed by many, allegedly including Henry VIII, to be an aphrodisiac. The sweet potato was also native to the Americas, but is a member of the Convolvulaceae family, related to the lovely blue morning glory (Ipomoea piapurea) and the convolvulus that gardeners hate (bindweed). The poor Irish, however, repressed by Cromwell, found the white potato nutritious and easy to cultivate_ They used a short three-pronged fork, called a spud (from Danish spyd, a short spear), to turn the earth, and by a sort of verbal osmosis the tool gave its name to the tuber. Spuds were soon their staple diet, a reliance which alas meant that they suffered terribly from 1845 onwards when a potato fungus ravaged the land and caused widespread famine. In five years the Irish population, which had doubled between 1750 and 1790, was halved due to starvation and emigration. Meanwhile, in France, the potato had been popularised by the clever agronomist, pharmacist, author and epicure Antoine-Augustin Parmentier (1737-1813), who wrote theses on the uses of vegetables and especially potato flour, and gave his name to a number of potato dishes still enjoyed today. In 1787, a turbulent year, he started cultivating an acre of potato plants near Paris. The field was closely guarded by soldiers of the Garde Francaise, but purposely left unguarded at the end of the day, thus astutely encouraging the starving population to dig them up by night. By the early 1800s the potato had become a staple food. Although potatoes were widely grown and eaten in the United States, it was the remarkable and talented Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) who is credited with introducing chips (French fries) to the continent when he returned in 1789 after spending four years as that country’s ambassador in Paris. It was nearly another hundred years Ire chips appeared in. Britain, apparently first in Lancashire, spurred on as cheap cooking oil became widely available for the first time. By 1853 the Dictionary of American English on Historical Principles recorded such bizarre products as potato custard, potato chowder, potato pone (a type of bread), potato pudding and even potato coffee. That same year saw the invention of potato crisps (US, chips), by an Adirondack Indian chef named George Crum at the Moon Lake House hotel, a resort in Saratoga Springs, upstate New York, in response to a difficult customer. As the customer was the redoubtable millionaire Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877), who kept complaining that his French fries were “too thick”, Crum sliced the potatoes wafer-thin, plunged the pieces into boiling fat, and had his waitress wife deliver the heavily salted plateful to the Commodore. His verdict: “Thin enough and more than good enough.” They became known as “Crum’s Saratoga Chips”. Word spread, and the new product was first produced commercially in Ohio in the 1890s and sold in barrels. The first purpose-built factory for the production of chips (crisps) was established by A. A Walter and Company in 1925 in Albany, New York. Individual bags with salt sachets were introduced in Britain in the 1930s, invented by Mr Smith of Smiths Crisps fame who, my father informed me many years ago, started his company with the gratuity he received on leaving the RAF. Pringles, incidentally, made from reconstituted potato granules, were introduced much later, by Procter and Gamble in 1969. These days there are hundreds of varieties of potato grown, varying according to climate, soil, and eventual use. Perhaps the best known, in England at least, is the versatile King Edward, named in 1905 by a Lincolnshire farmer who developed this versatile hybrid and wrote to Buckingham Palace seeking leave to name his variety after the reigning monarch, King Edward VII. Permission was granted, and a century later, the farmer’s descendants continue the tradition today.
Postscript on Leicester
During the coach journey to Leicester, Denis Ross made a request to his captive audience — he wanted a Limerick where the first line was “There was a young lady from Leicester.” Here are two of the entries
There was a young lady from Leicester
Who knew how to fill a siesta.
For actions illicit
She had to solicit.
I’ve her number for any requestor.
There was a young lady from Leicester
Who claimed Denis was one who impressed her.
But she wasn’t telling
How he was excelling.
She’s concerned that the police might arrest her.
Obviously impressed by the results, Denis issued a further challenge on our way to Devon. This time, the first line was to be “There was a young lady from Bodmin” More of that next month, but entries have not been closed — there is still time for you to submit your version.
A plea for help
Audrey Hooson, who lives at Oakleigh Park, would welcome a lift to and from the lectures at Avenue House. If anyone can help, could they please call Audrey or let Jim Nelhams (phone number on back page) know. Are there other members who don’t come to our lectures because of lack of transport. If so, it does seem a shame. Perhaps we can help. If you would like a lift, or can offer one, please contact Jim, and he will see if we can match resources
Edward Elgar’s outings
In 1912, Elgar was living in Hampstead. At the weekends, he made the most of the steam train service to visit places on the outskirts of London. And when he returned to his home, suitably inspired, he sometimes wrote a short piece of music. Thus came into being a set of 5 unaccompanied part-songs, and three of these (Opus 71, 72 and 73) have after the last line of music the place he had just visited. They show — Mill Hill, Totteridge and Monken Hadley. Sadly, those steam trains were replaced by the Northern Line. And perhaps if HADAS had existed then, we could have persuaded him to join.
Battle of Barnet — Help needed by Andrew Coulson
HADAS will shortly be providing practical support to the Battle of Barnet Working Group. The Group have recently obtained permission for a survey on private ground to the north of Barnet, and surveys using resistivity equipment and our metal detector are planned. Our new GPS equipment will also be useful. This will likely be followed by some field walking. These useful activities are also nice social events, and a good way to meet and share the work with other members. And if we are successful in finally identifying the battle site, that will be a real achievement for thise involved. Your society needs you — so let Andrew Coulson know if you would like to help. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Other Societies’ Events Compiled by Eric Morgan
Sunday 1st October — 2pm. The Battle of Barnet Guided walk. Meet at junction of Great. North Road and Hadley Green Road. Led by Paul Baker (City of London Guide). Cost £5. Lasts 2 hours.
Friday 6th October — 1 to 2pm. Museum of London, -150 London Wall EC2. Bakerloo and Piccadilly Lines Centenary. Talk by Oliver Green.
Saturday 7th October — 2 to 4pm. Harrow Museum, Headstone Manor, Pinner View, North Harrow. HANDS ON. Opportunity to handle objects from the Museum’s collection. Free! Also 2:30 — 3:30pm Guided tours of the Museum. From Reception in the Tithe Barn. £2.50
Sunday 8th October — 2pm. BARNET CHURCHES. Guiding walking around some of the churches of High Barnet and Monken Hadley. Meet outside Barnet College, Wood Street. Led by Paul Baker Cost £5.
Sunday 8th October — 2:30pm. London Canal Museum, 12-13 New Wharf Road, Kings Cross, N1. Guided Water Tower tow path walk from Museum to top of water point at St Pancras via Regents Park Canal. Monday 9th October – 3pm. Barnet and District Local History Society, Church House, Wood Street (opposite Barnet College). The last King of England Talk by Val Johnson
Wednesday 11th October – 6:30pm. LAMAS Learning Centre, Museum of London, London Wall EC2. ENVIRONMENTAL ARCHAEOLOGY— First annual joint lecture with London Natural History Society. Refreshments at 6pm.
Wednesday 11th October — 8pm. Hornsey Historical Society, Union Church Hall, corner of Ferme Park Road and Weston Park, N8. The History and the Restoration of St Mary’s Hornsey Church Tower. Talk by friends of Hornsey Church Tower.
Saturday 14th October — 3:30 to 4:30pm. Harrow Museum, Headstone Manor, Pinner View, North Harrow .Behind the scenes — Tour from Reception in the Tithe Barn of new archive stores of Local History Collection. £2.50.
Sunday 15th October — 2pm. Priests, Pomp and Paupers. Guided historical walk through High Barnet. Meet outside Barnet College, Wood Street. Led by Paul Baker. Cost £5.
Wednesday 18th October — 7:30pm. Willesden Local History Society, Scout House, High Road corner Strode Road, NW 10. History of Willesden general Hospital — talk by Len Snow (Society President and author of a book on the history of the hospital).
Wednesday 18th October — 8pm. Islington Archaeology and History Society, Islington Town Hall, Upper Street, Nl. Urbs and Suburbs. Harley Sherlock
Thursday 19th October — 7:30pm. Camden History Society, Gospel Oak Methodist Church, Agincourt Road near Fleet Road, NW3. Launching Gospel Oak. Talk by research group on book of the history of its streets.
Friday 20th October — 7pm. COLAS, St Olave’s Parish hall, Mark Lane, EC3. The Black Death in London. Talk by Barney Sloane, English Heritage.
Friday 20th October — 8pm. Enfield Archaeological Society, Jubilee Hall, junction of Chase Side/Parsonage Lane, Enfield. King Arthur, alive, well and in person. Talk by Tim Harper. Visitors – £1. Refreshments and info at 7:30pm.
Friday 20th October — 7:30pm. Wembley History Society, St Andrews Church Hall, Church Lane, Kingsbury, NW9. A History of Wembley Football Club, and remembering the World Cup at Wembley. Talk by Terry Lomas — with music and songs.
Monday 23rd October — Saturday 4th November. Harrow and Hillingdon Geological Society. Exhibition at Gayton Road Library, Harrow.
Wednesday 25th October – 8pm. Finchley Society, Drawing Room, Avenue House. Bizarre Barnet. (Jean Scott Memorial Lecture.) Given by Gerard Roots — HADAS member and curator Church Farm Museum.
Friday/Saturday 27/28th October — 10am to 4pm. LAARC, Mortimer Wheeler House, 46 Eagle Wharf Road, Nl. Ritual Superstitions of Past Londoners. Talk to specialists and handle objects.
Saturday 28th October — 10am to 4pm. Edmonton Hundred Historical Society, Jubilee Hall, junction of Chase Side/Parsonage Lane, Enfield. Local History Research — Past, Present and Future. Day conference. Contact Pat Keeble, 15 Onslow Gardens, N21 1DY
Wednesday 1st November — 8pm. Stanmore and Harrow Historical Society, Wealdstone Baptist Church, High Street, Wealdstone. Old Houses of Eastcote. Talk by Mrs Eileen Bowlt (LAMAS Chairman and HADAS lecturer in March 2007). Modest Charge.